She stood up for her Dark Phoenix co-star Sophie Turner's character. 

By Isabel Jones
May 07, 2019 @ 3:00 pm

Though it seems like everyone and their mother (and at least one barista) is raving about the medieval marvel that is HBO’s Game of Thrones, Jessica Chastain is here to remind us that even fictional women aren’t defined by their traumas at the hands of men.

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In Sunday’s episode, “The Last of the Starks,” Sansa Stark (who happens to be played by Chastain’s Dark Phoenix co-star Sophie Turner), has a discussion with Sandor Clegane (aka The Hound) about how things would’ve been different had she fled King’s Landing with him in season 2 — namely avoiding brutal emotional and physical abuse. Sansa, nicknamed little bird, tells him, "Without Littlefinger and Ramsay and the rest, I would have stayed a little bird all my life,” implying that she’s stronger because of these men’s deplorable actions and even grateful for them.

Helen Sloan/HBO

The Zero Dark Thirty star took the series to task on Monday night, writing, “Rape is not a tool to make a character stronger. A woman doesn’t need to be victimized in order to become a butterfly. The #littlebird was always a Phoenix. Her prevailing strength is solely because of her. And her alone. #GameOfThrones.”

And Chastain wasn’t alone in this critique:

Sansa’s horrific rape scene in season five drew much criticism and even prompted fans to boycott the show. Turner defended the series following the controversy, telling The Times, “The more we talk about sexual assault the better. And screw the people who are saying we shouldn’t be putting this on TV and screw the people who are saying they’re going to boycott the show because of it. This sort of thing used to happen and it continues to happen now, and if we treat it as such a taboo and precious subject, then how are people going to have the strength to come out and feel comfortable saying that this has happened to them?”

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Perhaps the creators are still cognizant of the backlash and wanted to prove that the 2015 scene was warranted? Whatever the case, Chastain’s words ring true — your strength isn’t the product of someone else’s misdoings; it’s the product of your own growth.

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